The Sad History Of Sarah Baartman – African Woman Sexualized And Put On Display For Her Shape

The Sad History Of Sarah Baartman - African Woman Sexualized And Put On Display For Her Shape
The Sad History Of Sarah Baartman – African Woman Sexualized And Put On Display For Her Shape

The documentation of Africa’s encounter with the European man, can not be complete without the mention of Sarah Baartman. Her case adds to the many crimes committed against Africans by Caucasians, in their bid to dominate and colonize the ancient people of Africa.

The inhumane translocation and sexuaization of this black woman, till today, speaks volumes of what the African woman suffered during the days of slavery, and beyond, in the hands of racists slave masters and colonialists. Her story continues to steer anger till this day, because till date, the Affrican woman’s body is hyper-sexualized in many parts of the caucasian world. Below is a detailed story of her life and journey in the hands of a vile world.

Birth, Upbringing And Move To England

Sarah Baartman was a female, born in the 1770s, at Camdeboo valley in the eastern part of  Cape Colony, modern-day South Africa. She was named Saartjie and later nicknamed Hottentot Venus.

As she grew,  she later suffered from a medical condition called Steatopygia, a condition that made her have excess fatty tissue around her hips and backside which was more pronounced than that of the typical African woman, that is usually curvy. She was hypersexualized and mocked and her story represents a dark time in black history. Many still associate it with the fetishization and hyper-sexualization of curvy black women by white-folk.

Exhibition And Unfair Treatment Across Europe

Under the pretext of helping her get treatment for her rare condition in Piccadilly, a doctor by the name William Dunlop lured her and took her out of the cape, where she was further exploited and showed for money across England and Ireland. She was used as a spectacle of hyper-sexualization, for the pleasure of white masters across Europe.

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She later moved to England in 1810,  under the care of her employer, Hendrik Cesars, and an English doctor William Dunlop. Where she later got baptized in Manchester, and was given the baptismal name “Sarah”.

However, in England her servitude never stopped as she kept being displayed on exhibitions, until her sad predicament was noticed by the british abolitionists who campaigned against slavery. Some parts of history even said white women treated her poorly while white men poked her with sticks.

The British abolitionists then went further to seek a redress of Baartman’s unfair treatment in court, but the case was not won as her Doctor (William Dunlop) produced a contentious document, that proved to be a contract signed between Dunlop and the illiterate Baartman.

Even after Dunlop’s death, her caricature neved ceased as a man named Henry Taylor took Baartman to Paris and made her thrill onlookers. At Paris, a scientist named George Curvier researched and used her as an experiment for his aim of finding a link between men and animals.

According to Wikipedia sources, Baartman was later sold to Sean Reaux who raped and impregnated her as an experiment. She gave birth to a daughter who was named Okurra Reaux, and who later died at age 5.

All through this time, she lived in penury and could barely afford to feed.

Her Death

She died in Paris, France in December 1815

Her remains was moved to South Africa in 2002 after a life lived and being a spectacle of mockery. Even after her death, she was dissected by George Curvier, and put on display in France.

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Sarah Baartman’s life and death was the height of internalized racism, sexism and fetishization of the black woman’s body by white-folk.


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